USS MANATEE (AO-58)


The following document was derived from the MANATEE Deck Log.

It was prepared for public consumption and distributed to visitors attending an Open House in January 1962.


MANATEE is one of a group of war-tried fleet oilers built for the Navy by Bethlehem Steel Shipbuilding Company at Sparrows Point Baltimore, Maryland. She is a long, broad-beamed oiler, designed expressly for fueling ships at sea. Her power plant is built around four steam turbines which, coupled with the usual oiler propulsion of twin screws, give her the speed necessary to cooperate with the ships of our present Navy. In her cavernous tanks she carries a most essential element of modern war - fuel - some 120,000 gallons of oil and aviation gasoline. Graceful lines nullify the illusion of awkward, plodding movement usually associated with the conventional merchant tanker. The Navy, therefore, has a smart, trim ship, armed with moderate sized guns, and fast enough to operate with the modern carrier task force. It was while operating in such support that MANATEE and her sister ships were revealed by Admiral Nimitz to be one of the principle "secret weapons" contributing to the successful termination of World War II.


Commissioned at Baltimore on 06 APR 1944, MANATEE, under the command of LCDR Joseph B. Smyth, proceeded to the Chesapeake Bay area for her shakedown. Ten days of trials were followed by a Navy Yard availability and an Atlantic cruise, Which ended abruptly at Aruba, Dutch West Indies. Loaded, the ship hurried through the Panama Canal and made her way to Pearl Harbor to join those preparing for the invasion of Siapan. After a short delay she proceeded to Eniwetok Atoll in company with several other oilers, representing a sizable portion of a logistic support group. The voyage was noteworthy only in that the ship conducted a practice fueling-at -sea operation for the first time. On 16 JUN 1944 she entered the Atoll's waters. MANATEE was now in the war.


The first sortie from Eniwetok occurred on the following day when a group of oilers were ordered out to refuel amphibious forces, then busy with landings on Siapan. The first day of fueling was a difficult one. It started at 0900 and continued until the job was completed at 1905, despite darkness and damage to a fueling rig when MANATEE suffered a steering casualty. Several days later another fueling took place which gave the members of the crew additional confidence in their ability to perform this task as efficient as any of their more experienced sister ships. On this occasion one of the new battleships of Task Force 58, Indiana, came alongside, was fueled, and all in a minimum of time and without difficulty. It was a most thorough introduction to the art of fueling-at-sea, and soon developed into an efficient routine.


Throughout the campaign for Saipan, Tinian and Guam. MANATEE shuttled from Eniwetok to the fueling areas, servicing ships of various types as often as necessary. For several days during the fighting for Tinian, she fueled the forces gathered in nearby Garapan Bay, Saipan. On 20 AUG 1944 about the time the islands were secured, she moved to Manus Island, and continued her shuttle operations to the fast task force (now comprising the Third Fleet) from that port. Manus continued as a base throughout the campaign for Pelilieu Island and the first phase of the Battle of the Philippines and it was not until Ulithi Atoll was secured that the oilers ceased to use Manus. on 20 OCT 1944, MANATEE left Manus for the last time and proceeded northward to join the forces of Admiral Halsey then covering the landings on Leyte. On 25 OCT 1944, when the Second Battle of the Philippine Sea was at its height, MANATEE in company with other oilers was cruising north, within easy bombing range of the island. However, the Japanese were being too hard pressed to come out after the group even though it did offer a most tempting target. It was not until two days later, when the group fueled ships of Task Group 38.1, that the facts of the battle were learned in detail and MANATEE's relative position to the danger was determined.


As the war moved on in the Philippines, the Fleet increased the scope of its air strikes with the oilers group tagging close behind. The logistic support group had grown to include ammunition ships, sea-going tugs, baby flattops carrying replacement aircraft, and an increasing number of oilers released from duty in the Atlantic by the cessation of hostilities there. Relations between the group and the carrier task force became closer, and replenishing operations more frequent, developing into routine rendezvous every third day.


In the midst of these meetings, on 17 DEC 1944 there were noticeable indications of a typhoon which was to sweep over the Third Fleet on the 18th. Fueling had commenced at about 1100 under bad conditions and the weather grew progressively worse. MANATEE fueling the carrier HANCOCK and the destroyers SWENSON and MADDOX, suffered heavy damage to her fueling rigs and lost several sections of hose and tending lines when the ships were driven apart by the heavy seas. She still managed to deliver 8,000 barrels of fuel oil and some 60,000 gallons of aviation gasoline to the big carrier. She continued to provide fuel until the destroyers could no longer come close enough to swing aboard the hose. She then secured to ride out the storm, which the fleet had been unable to avoid. The storm reached its peak early on the 18th. MANATEE drove through the heavy seas at slow formation speed, taking the huge combers over her bow and decks while smothered in fine salt spray that all but hid the after part of the ship from the bridge. Movement from one enclosed part of the ship to another became impossible because of the unbroken succession of waves that swept over the connecting catwalks and decks. Yet she came through the typhoon without serious casualty to equipment or crew, and on the morning of the 19th she took up station on the fueling line to again fill the needs of the ships of Task Group 38.


The strikes against the enemy in the Philippines and Formosa continued as the war progressed, and early in 1945 units of the oiler group were detached from the main body to accompany Task Force 38 on its strikes against Japanese convoys and shore installations in the China Sea. A few days after the strikes commenced another task unit, to which MANATEE was assigned, departed from the group and made its way through the Surigao Strait and the Sulu Sea to a rendezvous. On 17 JAN 1945 the oilers joined the fleet, and commenced fueling. Heavy seas made the task extremely difficult. Hoses and lines parted frequently and at times the bow of the battleship WISCONSIN, fueling from MANATEE, was lifted clear of the water by huge swells. Yet, despite the beatings, fueling requirements were fulfilled. But the China Sea expedition was drawing to a close and, following another fueling on the 19th, the oiler unit returned through the Sulu Sea and the Surigao Strait to Ulithi, where it made preparation for the invasion of Iwo Jima.


It was during the campaign for Iwo Jima that the logistic support group reached its final stage of development. More oilers reported from the Atlantic Fleet. A large number of ammunition, dry cargo and fresh provisions ships, aircraft carriers. and sea-going tugs joined the group. The light cruiser DETROIT was added as flagship to further protect and facilitate the handling of these ships. The oilers, in addition to their petroleum products now supplied mail, aircraft belly tanks, depth charges, freight, motion pictures, transportation services and a large number of personnel replacements. Transfer of this supercargo was accomplished during fueling operations and it was seldom that a ship asked for and received only fuel oil. The force had become a floating supply base, enabling the fleet commander to maintain indefinitely his strikes against the enemy.


The campaign progressed rapidly and MANATEE found upon her return to Ulithi, late in February, that the group commander had decided he could spare her, and ordered her to Leyte Gulf where amphibious forces were preparing for the coming invasion of Okinawa. There she fueled the assembled ships until 18 MAR 1945, when she returned to Ulithi and waited with other oilers to take part in the pending action. on the 25th she rejoined the main logistic body and then with the fleet, and began the shuttling of oil from Ulithi to the carrier task groups, a routine which was to be maintained until the island was secured in June.


A respite followed, but not for long. On 02 JUL 1945 the commander of the logistics group told his captains, in a conference aboard his flagship, of the part they would play in the Third Fleet's operation against the home islands of Japan. He outlined for then a new plan which would divide his task group into two units; one to be composed of fast oilers only, and the other to be composed of the remaining service ships in his force. In detail, he explained how MANATEE and the others of the fast oiler unit would lend support to the carrier task groups by moving swiftly during the hours of darkness to within 200 miles of the Japanese coast, rendezvous and fuel the Task Force, then retire to a safe operational area at dusk. The second task unit would remain in a relatively secure area to which the striking forces could retire when in need of supplies and ammunition. A maximum number of oilers was to be maintained in the fueling area, by quick transfer of cargo between ships, and a routing of the empty oilers to Ulithi for a quick refill and return to the task group. The plan worked exceedingly well. Throughout July and the early part of August the carrier groups fueled on an average of every third day in waters dangerously close to the Japanese coast, and with such speed that the fueling usually was completed at noon. Full supplies were maintained by the consolidation of cargo and rapid round trips to Ulithi, which provided a more than sufficient amount of fuel oil for the carrier forces.


When the war ended the Third Fleet ceased its offensive operations and joined the logistics group, remaining with it and fueling daily until a short time before the signing of the surrender terms in Tokyo Bay. With its signing the logistics support group began to disperse, and on 27 AUG 1945 MANATEE emptied her tanks and sailed for Ulithi where orders to report to San Pedro, CA, awaited her. On the 21st of September she left her atoll and sailed for home, bringing to an end a long service of 17 months in the forward areas of the Pacific.


MANATEE arrived in San Pedro on 07 OCT 1945 and after a short stay for leave, recreation, and replenishment, she departed on 27th of November for the Far East Area to participate in support operations of occupied territories under the direction of the Chief of Naval Transportation Services. While at anchor in Nakayoma, Japan, on 23 DEC 1945, MANATEE's war time Commanding Officer, LCDR Smyth, was detached and CAPT R.G. Visser, USN took command. After making three trips from Japan to the Persian Gulf area, with recreation stops at Manila, Singapore and Colombo, MANATEE sailed for Pearl Harbor for regular overhaul, where on 26 MAR 1947, CAPT J.L. Shank took command. Upon completion of overhaul at Pearl Harbor, the ship departed on 18 JUL 1947 for the Persian Gulf, but three days out, on the 21st, she suffered a major steering casualty which necessitated returning to Pearl for repairs. She finally departed on the 11th of September. On 19 OCT 1947, after the vessel was loaded at Ras Tanura, she sailed for Norfolk, VA via the Suez Canal and the Gibralter Straits. A heavy storm was encountered in the Atlantic on the 13th of November and some damage was sustained by the superstructure. Upon completion of off-loading fuel at Norfolk, MANATEE departed for Aruba from which two shuttle trips were made, one to Cristobal, C.Z., and the other to Melville, R.I., she then returned to Norfolk.


On 29 DEC 1947 she again departed Norfolk, this time bound for Bahrain in the Persian Gulf via the Suez Canal, with port visits in Casablanca and Tangier along the way. MANATEE departed Bahrain on 29 JAN 1948 underway for Japan and then returned to Bahrain on the 23rd of March. On March 25th, freshly loaded with fuel, she set course back to Norfolk arriving there on the 22nd of April.


On 28 APR 1848, CAPT H.W. Taylor, USN took command. His first missions were shuttle trips from Aruba to Bayonne, NJ and Aruba to Argentia, Newfoundland. MANATEE departed Argentia for the Persian Gulf on June 2nd. MANATEE was loaded at Ras Tanura and sailed to Sasebo, Japan Arriving there on July 28th. After off-loading fuel in Sasebo, she was underway for Long Beach, Ca, arriving there on the 20th of August. While at Long Beach overhaul and refresher training were performed.


On 06 JAN 1949, CAPT C.T. Corbin, USN took command and the next day MANATEE got underway for the Persian Gulf. Port visits were made at Pearl Harbor, Suriago and Singapore as well as three runs from the Persian Gulf to Japan. After those trips she sailed for San Francisco, CA arriving in port on the 17th of July.


Following MANATEE's arrival in San Francisco, the "Big Ma" as she has been affectionately termed, was decommissioned, had her fueling rigs removed, and turned over to the Military Sea Transportation Service (MSTS). On 22 JUL 1949, remaining under the command of CAPT Corbin, she left San Francisco headed for Adak, Alaska. Later, on the 30th, she departed Adak bound for Sands Bay, AK. thence on to Kodiak, AK the following day. On 03 AUG 1949, MANATEE was steaming back into San Francisco. In less than a week, on the 10th, she was underway again, this time for Tacoma, WA. She arrived in Tacoma the same day. She was soon on her way back to San Francisco with a brief stop in Manchester, WA on the way. Arriving in San Francisco on the 18th, she stayed for five days before getting underway for Pearl Harbor on the 23rd. It was a six day trip to Pearl where she off-loaded her fuel. Then it was underway again, on the 1st of September, now to Long Beach for her regular overhaul period, she tied up at the shipyard on the 7th of September. At Long Beach the MANATEE was provided about three months of needed repairs and maintenance and the crew was awarded a well-earned chance for leave and recreation.


On 11 DEC 1949, She left Long Beach for San Francisco, prior to sailing to Kodiak, AK, arriving at Kodiak on the 17th. From Kodiak the "Big Ma" returned to Long Beach. The stay in Long Beach was only long enough to load some fuel and cargo, and then she was underway for the Canal Zone. On January 13th, she arrived in Balboa, C.Z., and 7 days later she tied up in Charleston, SC. From Charleston it was off to Norfolk, VA. A day in Norfolk and she was again underway for the West Coast via Cristobol, C.Z.. From there she sailed on to San Diego, arriving on the 17th of February. A week later, on the 24th, she sailed on up the coast of California to San Pedro for another load of fuel.


During the months of March, April, May and June of 1950 her time was filled with three more trips from Long Beach to Norfolk via Balboa, C.Z.. She arrived in Norfolk June 27th on the third trip. Liberty and recreation partys were always provided for the comfort of the crew at whatever port MANATEE stopped long enough. Some of the ports she visited were St.John's & Argentia, Newfoundland; Aruba, DWI and Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.


From Norfolk MANATEE went to Curacac, Dutch West Indies, arriving there on July 8, 1950 and thence to Cristobol, C.Z. on July 11. From there she proceeded through the Gulf of Mexico, stopping at Port Arthur, Texas, on July 19 and Key West, Florida on July 22. Finally, she returned to Norfolk on July 25, 1950.


Six days later Captain C.T. Corbin was relived by Captain W.G. Chapple. The MANATEE, an M.S.T.S. vessel, sailed to Aruba, arriving there August 27 and returned to Norfolk September 1st. Another round trip, Norfolk to Aruba was completed on September 13, 1950.


On the next trip to Aruba, however, MANATEE did not return to Norfolk. She started out by sailing through the Gulf of Mexico to Houston, Texas; then back to the East Coast of Melville, R.I., then back down to Aruba on October 7, 1950. From Aruba, the Big Ma made a two day trip to Port of Spain, Trinidad, then returned to Aruba for some time prior to completion of a trip around the world. Leaving Aruba, she arrived Boston October 21, 1950, and on October 27 departed for Port Said, Egypt.


On November 10, 1950, MANATEE arrived in Port Said and ten days later made port in Ras Tanura, Saudi Arabia, and the following month on December 6th stopped at her first oriental port of the trip, Manila.


From Manila she sailed to Yokosuka, Japan, pausing for a short time at Subic Bay, and arrived in Yokosuka on December 25th, for a load of fuel oil. Thereafter, followed another trip to Pearl Harbor and back again to Sasebo, Japan on February 1, 1951. From Sasebo, the MANATEE sailed from the final stop of her around the world trip, steaming into the port of Long Beach on February 17, 1951.


It was shortly after this that the USS MANATEE (AO-58) was converted from an M.S.T.S. oiler to a Navy fleet oiler. Because of the Korean conflict there was a definite shortage of fleet oilers, so the ship and crew was given only time to permit loading of fuel and cargo and what liberty and recreation could be granted in the limited time available and MANATEE sailed for the Fart East, arriving Tokuyama, Japan, on March 17, 1951. On March 21st she went to Yokosuka for several days, after which she made port in Sasebo, which was to become the home base for her operations in the Korean combat area.


Her first combat assignment of the Korean Operations was the Formosa Straits Patrol, which took her to Keelung, Formosa; Hong Kong, and the Pescadores Islands. The MANATEE under Captain W.G. Chapple, a former submarine skipper, evidently found great favor and made Keelung write flattering articles concerning the fine conduct of crew members on liberty and during interviews.


The Formosa Straits Patrol lasted about a month, at the end of which MANATEE returned to Sasebo on May 20, 1951. The following months on June and July were strictly "line duty", or going up on the Line by which is meant going up to combat areas for fueling-at-sea.


During a trip to meet the Fleet north of the 38th parallel, the MANATEE was loaded with fuel and mail. As she approached the rendezvous just off the Korean coast, all of the destroyers and cruisers of the Task Force were employed in shelling gun emplacements ashore. The Captain of the MANATEE found the occasion opportune for putting his ship's fire power to use. He maneuvered to a point closer to the beach, backed the ship around towards shore, and ordered the stern 5 inch gun manned. Within a few minutes he began to fire on a rich paddy trying to hit a small bamboo shed. MANATEE's shells exploded over a large area of rice fields terrifying the Koreans by failing to hit the target. Before long the admiral on board the USS MISSOURI, several miles away, noticed the MANATEE's position and immediately sent a priority message: "EXPEDITE DELIVERY FLEET MAIL." The Caption of the MANATEE, very intent on proving his ship's offensive capabilities, replied with "UNABLE TO COMPLY X AM PRESENTLY ENGAGED IN BOMBARDING ENEMY INSTALLATIONS."


After five months of fueling-at-sea operations in combat areas, having left the States on February 17, 1951, the MANATEE finally headed for her home stateside port of Long Beach, California, arriving there on August 11, 1951.


Having returned from Korean operations, the USS MANATEE (AO-58) was a welcome sight to many residents of Long Beach and surrounding areas. Although a large percentage of the officers and crew have homes in Long Beach, they had not been able to see those homes very often during the previous year or so, since the ship had gone around the world and spent much time on the East Coast before her tour of Korean operations began.


Because of the strenuous work MANATEE had gone through and because of the necessity of structural changes to provide for additional fire power and aviation gasoline storage, her periodic overhaul was one which amounted to five months of industrious activity in Long Beach Naval Shipyard.


On November 7, 1951, a change of command ceremony was held aboard the MANATEE in Long Beach Naval Shipyard. Cdr.. J.C. McGoughran, USN, relieved Captain W.G. Chapple, USN, of duties as commanding officer of the MANATEE. At a ship's party held that evening by the crew and officers of the MANATEE in honor of their former and new commanding officer, the crew and officers exhibited the high esteem which they had held for Captain Chapple.


Under Commander J.C. McGoughran, USN, the MANATEE underwent repairs and maintenance in Long Beach until January 9, 1952, when she sailed to Pearl Harbor. Rough weather was encountered during the voyage buy all went well and MANATEE arrived in Pearl Harbor January 15, 1952.


Prior to beginning Underway Training in Pearl Harbor, the ship sailed for Kwajalein in the Marshall Islands, arriving in Kwajalein on January 24, 1952. After filling three YOGN's in Kwajalein she sailed for Midway Islands and spent several days there fueling destroyers and yard oilers, while providing the crew with liberty and recreation parties.


From Midway she returned to Pear Harbor for 30 days of rigorous Underway Training administered by the Underway Training Command which lasted from February 9 to March 7, a training which benefited the new men aboard and helped to further "sharpen" the performances of old hands.


Upon getting underway from Pearl Harbor, MANATEE held some fueling-at-sea exercises with several destroyrs and steamed into Apra Harbor, Guam, on March 16, 1952.


On March 21st she reported to her home base of operations at Sasebo, Japan, and came under the command of Commander Service Squadron Three.


MANATEE under the able leadership of CDR. J.C. McGoughran, who distinguished himself in World War II as commanding officer of a U.S. destroyer for which he received the Commendation Ribbon and the Combat V, proved again to the ships of other United Nations as well as to the ships of the U.S. task forces operation in combat areas that the MANATEE is one of the best and most efficient fleet oilers in the fleet. Time and again MANATEE received high praises for efficient service rendered from the ships and task groups she has fueled as well as logistic forces with which she served. If a list were made of all the U.S. ships MANATEE replenished during this period, that list in itself would read like an itemized unit by unit account of U.S. Pacific Fleet ships from battleships to minesweepers. To those ships fueling-at-sea meant much more than taking on fuel oil or aviation gasoline, most of the time it meant new movies, mail from home, fresh food and provisions, needed cargo and supplies, or perhaps a passenger to become a new member of the ships crew.


Nor was fueling-at-sea entirely a chore. When carriers were fueled, they would sometimes have a band on hand to serenade her during fueling operations. In return, MANATEE would serenade them with records, on the loudspeaker. Buy on one trip out on the Line, MANATEE really had a surprise in store for the carriers as well as other ships she fueled by having the 7th Fleet Band aboard for five days.


One June 18, 1952, the MANATEE headed from Sasebo for the Formosa Straits Patrol. One June 20th, she fueled units in Buckner Bay, Okinawa, and then continued on her way to Keelung, Formosa, making all possible haste in order to avoid a typhoon reported approaching. In June 22nd she sailed into the harbor of Keelung and, completing her business in Keelung the same day, was underway for Takao, Formosa, or Koa Hsiung as it is called by the Chinese. She arrived in Koa Hsiung on June 23, relieving another oiler as station vessel.


Her operations in Kao Hsiung included underway fueling of various ships in the Formosa Straits Patrol as well as providing movies, food, provisions, mail cargo, aviation gasoline, and passengers for them as well as all ships in Bokoko of the Pascadores Islands. She was also indirectly a diplomatic representative of the U.S. Government with the Chinese Nationalist Armed Forces Kao Hsiung, her officers serving as observers of maneuvers at which almost all the high ranking officers of the Chinese Nationalist Army were present.


As such, the commanding officer and officers of the MANATEE were told by Chinese Army and local officials that MANATEE was the best liked and most efficient station ship they had ever had, and so said Navy MAAG officials. Of that record the MANATEE is extremely proud. Swimming and baseball recreation parties were planned and carried out at every available opportunity. A boxing team was organized to compete with the Chinese-Formosa boxing team and a boxing match was scheduled with well over 3,000 Chinese in attendance. The results were entirely satisfactory and the Chinese people and officials, great lovers of sports, were generally enthusiastic about the affair. Basketball games were also scheduled and it was generally found that the Chinese have become quite good at the American sport, and offered highly competitive teams, all of which contributed to making the games more enjoyable.


One July 23, 1952, MANATEE sailed for Hong Kong for five days of liberty and recreation before returning to Sasebo for continued operations on the Line. MANATEE personnel again proved themselves excellent diplomats in Hong Kong, and was only with regret that the days passed so swiftly. Liberty and recreation was provided for all hands, as well as tours of the island, and excellent entertainment was provided by an extremely clever magician and highly seasoned group of acrobats.


An July 29, 1952, MANATEE made preparation for getting underway early the next morning. However, because of a storm warning on the approach of a typhoon in the immediate area, sailing was delayed until July 31st.


Departing from Hong Kong on July 31st, MANATEE proceeded to Sasebo, arriving on August 3rd. Within 24 hours she was underway again, steaming to resume operations on the line. After servicing ships of Task Force 77 for another six weeks off the coast of North Korea, MANATEE departed from Sasebo on October 19, bound for her home port, Long Beach. Her arrival there was warmly welcomed since almost one-fifth of the crew lived in Long Beach and surrounding communities.


Ten months at sea will necessitate repairs to nearly every type of vessel and MANATEE was no exception to this. For nearly two months, workmen of the Todd Shipyard in San Pedro, California, and the crew of the MANATEE worked hand in hand to make her ready for extended sea duty.


Early in January 1952, MANATEE departed from Long Beach to join Task Force 13 and partake in the largest post-war cruiser/destroyer training operations ever undertaken in the Pacific Fleet. Then on January 13, she sailed for the Far East, arriving in Sasebo on the 6th of February.


During the following two months, the MANATEE operated out of Sasebo with other units of Task Force 92, replenishing Task Force 77 off the coast of Korea.


A change of command ceremony took place in Sasebo on the 18th day of April. Commander F.A. Brock relieved Commander J.C. McGoughran as Commanding Officer of the USS MANATEE (AO-58).


Throughout the remainder of the summer of 1953 the MANATEE operated in the WESTPAC area, making stops at Kao Hsiung, Boko Ko, Kobe, Yokosuka, and Hokodate, until July 29th when she left Yokosuka to return home via Pearl Harbor.


During the overhaul period that fall, the Long Beach Naval Shipyard workers removed all the 20MM guns. In late February 1954 the MANATEE left for the Marshall Islands, her crew having undergone two weeks of rigorous training to prepare for the underway replenishment operations in which she was soon to play a vital role.


In March of 1954, when the hydrogen bomb tests were being held in the Marshall Islands, MANATEE operated in the area refueling ships which participated in the experiment.


The remainder of the cruise was spent in the WESTPAC area, including the Philippines, Taiwan and Japan. MANATEE departed from Yokosuka on September 26th, bound for home after having completed another six months cruise on the Line.


On October 22, 1954, Captain Joseph S. Lewis relieved Commander F.A. Brock as Commanding Officer. A few days later the ship entered Craig Shipyard in Long Beach, for annual repairs and maintenance.


Six months out in the Western Pacific operation areas and six months back in the States had become standard operation procedure for the MANATEE. Her crew put in long working hours, and each did his utmost to uphold the slogan, "QUI SUPERAVIT", liberally translated meaning "WHOM SHALL EXCEL HER", which was adopted during the summer of 1955. The ship's flag wearing this slogan and the emblem of a "sea cow" was broken for the first time during a replenishment with Task Force 77 in August 1955.


MANATEE left the WESTPAC on 23 February 1955, returning to Long Beach in late September. A month later she was dry-docked at Richmond, California. While in dry dock, Captain J.S. Lewis was detached and Captain William Blenman took command. The ship moved across the bay to Pacific Ship Repair in San Francisco for extensive alterations and repairs. In January 1956 MANATEE left San Francisco for Long Beach, ready again for extended sea duty. The new messing and berthing facilities which had been installed made her more attractive and comfortable for officers and crew.


Two weeks underway training in San Diego helped many new hands to learn the ropes before MANATEE departed from Long Beach on 23 March 1956, bond for Yokosuka.


MANATEE arrived in Yokosuka on April 8th and while there completed minor voyage repairs and loaded cargo. After leaving Yokosuka, she took part in major replenishment operations with the ships of the Seventh Fleet.


On May 3rd MANATEE arrived in Subic Bay, Philippines. On May 16 she was in Manila Bay for 5 days rest and recreation. Many of her officers and crew partook in a three day recreation trip to nearby Camp John Hay at Baguio.


MANATEE arrived in Subic Bay on 22 May 1956 to engage in replenishment-at-sea maneuvers with Task Unit 73-3-1 and from there to Sasebo, arriving on 1 June. After a three week stay in Sasebo, MANATEE was once again on the move to take up her duties as station ship at SOPA at Kao Hsiung, Formosa, for being the best oiler in the Pacific Fleet. The first "E" came on 1 July 1953 only two years after becoming a Navy Fleet Oiler. The second "E" was won for the year ending 1 July 1956. The plaque reads:


For outstanding performance within its Competitive Class last fiscal year in: INTRATYPE COMPETITION "WE SERVE THE FLEET" AWARDED BY COMSERVPAC 1 July 1956.


This is a rather enviable records since in two out of six years as a Navy Oiler, the MANATEE has dominated her class.


MANATEE terminated her month-long stay in Formosa on 25 July and was relieved by the USS MISPILLION (AO-105). Following this duty came another much anticipated visit to Hong Kong, where both officers and men stocked on gifts and personal good to take home.


After a five day stay in Hong Kong, the ship headed back to Sasebo, arriving there on august 5th. On September 11, 1956, the MANATEE left for a replenishment rendezvous enroute to Kobe. After a week's stay in this port she headed for Yokosuka, before leaving for her home port of Long Beach, on 22 September. The MANATEE operated out of Long Beach and San Diego from 6 October 1956 to 24 February 1957. On November 9, 1956, Captain R.L. Nayman relieved Captain William Blenman as Commanding Officer.


On 25 February, MANATEE left for an unexpected but welcome trip to Acapulco, Mexico, in company of five MSO's. While in Mexico, many of the men took advantage of the opportunity to see a full fight or jai alai game. On 1 March the MANATEE said "Adios" to old Mexico, and left for San Pedro for seven days repairs in the San Pedro dry docks. The remainder of her Stateside duty consisted of independent operations out of San Diego, Long Beach and San Pedro.


The MANATEE again departed for WESTPAC, arriving on 7 June 1957. On 13 June she was ordered to rendezvous with Task Unit 73.3.1, at 1751. All liberty was canceled and the ship got underway at 1950, leaving eleven men on the beach. The following day at 2130, replenishment began with Task Groups 70.4 and 77.4, which included the carriers YORKTOWN (CVA-10), PHILIPPINE SEA (CVS-47), and LEXINGTON (CVA-16), plus the cruisers HELENA (CA-75) with COM7THFL aboard, and the COLUMBUS (CA-74). Darkness, plus rough weather and heavy seas made the next few days of almost continuous replenishment a nightmare. Several men, while manning their replenishment stations, were injured by heavy seas crashing over the well deck. To add to the difficulties, both port and starboard stations were manned.


On 17 June the REGULUS (AF-57) transferred the eleven missing men who had been absent on 13 June when the ship got under way. A total of about twenty five ships ranging from carriers to destroyer escorts were replenished during this period. Finally after a week of almost continuous fuel-at-sea operations under extremely adverse conditions, MANATEE made Sasebo once again, only to leave two days later for another rendezvous, this time to replenish twelve destroyers, two carriers and a cruiser. COMCARDIVONE was aboard the USS HANCOCK (CVA-19). The weather conditions this time turned out to be even worse than the previous run. Darkness plus fifteen foot waves caused several hoses to part and made station keeping almost impossible. Bad luck seemed to plague these few weeks, and upon returning from this operation extremely dens fog was encountered. Finally on 28 June the MANATEE pulled into Sasebo.


On 11 July the MANATEE got underway for Kobe, arriving there two days later. Several sightseeing tours were arranged for the ship, which proved very interesting. Calm weather prevailed when the ship left Kobe on 17 July. One 21 July she was again in Sasebo and on 30 July she got underway for Kao Hsiung, Formosa to take up duties as station ship. Highlighted by lunches with various and sundry officials plus warding off bumboats, make this another eventful stay which terminated by a trip to the mainland by way of Hong Kong.


On 14 September, MANATEE got underway for Yokosuka, in company with USS ZELIMA (AF-49), as T.U. 77.7.8, arriving there on 20 September. Even though MANATEE was underway several times for fueling operations with Task Group 77.7, the crew had ample time for liberty.


Early in November, the MANATEE left for CONUS with another successful cruise to her credit. Several times during her stay in the states, she operated as service ship to the Underway Training Group out of San Diego.


On 19 December 1957, Captain H.F. Holmshaw relieved Captain Neyman as Commanding Officer, during an impressive ceremony at Long Beach. The remainder of her time in the States was spent at the navel Shipyard and Todd Shipyard, with the exception of two weeks, during which she fulfilled her obligations with the Fleet Training Group.


After a long stay in CONUS, the MANATEE once again departed for WESTPAC. At 1143 on 13 May 1958, she sailed from Long Beach for Yokosuka. At 0600 on the 22nd of May, the ship stopped long enough for one of the officers to be transferred, via a YTB, to the Navel Hospital at Midway Island. Within 10 minutes she was again on her way, arriving in Yokosuka Harbor on May 30, 1958. Seven days later she was underway for her operation area where she completed eight refueling exercises.


On 5 August the MANATEE arrived in Kao Hsuing which became her operating port until 26 August. She then made a short stop at Subic Bay to take on fuel, and from there she proceeded to sea. During the next two weeks her fueling schedule was quite extensive but she returned to Kao Hsuing for a short rest at the end of the two weeks.


The MANATEE was scheduled to depart for CONUS in September, but because of the Formosa crisis the cruise was extended until October. Needless to say, there was very little rest and recreation during this period of international crisis. It was a relief to all hands when she finally departed for Long Beach.


During this WESTPAC tour, the ship fueled a total of 125 ships of the Seventh Fleet in all kinds of imaginable weather, day and night.


Once again MANATEE received a warm welcome on her arrival at Long Beach. For the next few months as many of the crew as possible were given a well-earned leave. On February 7, 1959, Captain H.F. Holmshaw was relived by Captain John J. Lynch, a naval aviator who had just recently completed a tour of duty as naval attach‚ for Air, Moscow, Russia.


On 24 March, 1959, under the command of Captain Lynch, the MANATEE again departed for her four month WESTPAC tour. She made a twelve hour shop at Pearl Harbor and then continued on her way to Sasebo, arriving there on 14 April where she remained for about two weeks. She then proceeded to Kagoshima.


During the month of May, MANATEE operated with T.G. 77.45 and T.G. 70.4. On the 28th of May, during the replenishment with the USS Hornet and her escorts, eight men on Station #2 were injured when large waves broke across the forward tank deck. The replenishment was finally terminated when rigs #2 and #8 parted.


On July 31 the MANATEE made a two day stop at Pearl Harbor, prior to docking in Long Beach on 8 August.


This WESTPAC tour proved to be very successful despite the unfortunate accident on May 28. During the cruise the ship made a stop at Kogoshima, as part of President Eisenhower's "People to People" program, where the MANATEE received a warm welcome. While in Hong Kong, she was presented with the "Meritorious Conduct Ashore" award, by the Serviceman's Guild Association. This award in presented to each U.S. Naval vessel who, during her stay in Hong Kong, received no Long or Short Form reports.


During the month of September the ship was underway for two weeks in the San Diego OPAREAS, supplying services to the Underway Training Group.


MANATEE departed for Seattle, Washington, on 8 October 1959 to take part in the underway replenishment demonstration which was to be conducted as a part of the 14th Annual Convention of the National Defense Transportation Association. The demonstration was stated in Puget South with Six American ships and two Canadian destroyers. Over 1,000 people boarded the ships early in the afternoon, and proceeded to sea with them. The Task Groups were complimented by various officials and guests for a job well done. There were many sad hearts among the crew as we made our departure on the 15th of October, for the return to Long Beach. The rest at Long Beach was short because the ship was called upon to supply services to the Fleet Training Group.


On 31 October 1959, Captain John J. Lynch was relieved of Command by Captain John C. Kelly who had recently served on the staff at CINCPACFLT. Captain Kelly, also a navel aviator, took the MANATEE to sea on the following Monday for a week of operation in the San Diego Operation Area. The remainder of her stay in CONUS was alongside the pier.


On December 26, 1959, the MANATEE shoved off for Sasebo via Yokosuka, Buckner Bay, Subic Bay, Hong Kong and Pearl Harbor. While in Hong Kong the crew received the Meritorious Conduct Ashore Award for an unprecedented second time. During the latter part of March MANATEE participated in the fleet wide exercises of "Blue Star". Throughout the return trip to CONUS, particularly between Yokosuka and Pearl Harbor, the ship was harassed by sustained high winds and heavy seas.


Immediately upon arrival in CONUS, the ship went to Todd Shipyard, San Pedro, where to crew indulged in leave and the ship commenced her much needed 3 month overhaul.


After her overhaul period MANATEE underwent a rigorous, fatiguing 3 weeks of Refresher Training. On 10 October 1960 she set sail for WESTPAC for her rotational four month tour.


(next few months missing)


Following her well-earned period of rest and relaxation, the MANATEE again furnished services for the Fleet Training Group off the coast of San Diego. During her participation in the fleet exercises, services furnished by the ship were of a caliber to bring credit to her and to the Service Force in the form of a message from Commander of the exercise. Another message from the Commander of the escorting destroyers in Exercise Greenlight, had this to say, "As a long time customer of roving gas stations yours is one of the smartest with whom I have done business. You are real sailormen." The remainder of the time spent in the States was divided between services to the Fleet Training Groups and upkeep periods in which the ship outfitted herself and her crew for the forthcoming deployment.


On 20 June 1961, the MANATEE set sail for Japan surrounding areas. During her deployment with the 7th Fleet the ship replenished underway a total of 106 ships. A summarized version of the job done is aptly contained in a message from COMDESRON 11 "Thank you for the smoothest unrep we have had during our six months in WESTPAC, your services were outstanding". And another from COMDESRON 5, "It has been a source of continuing pleasure to replenish from your fine ship during the closing phase of our deployment. We thank you for the cheerful times and superb service. Good Luck."


The job finished, and done right, the ship headed for home, via a short upkeep period in Guam. Due to arrive in Long Beach 18 November 196, the crew was somewhat disheartened when the ship reversed course to return toward Guam. One of the men had become stricken with a case of acute appendicitis and the ship was rushing to rendezvous with the destroyer dispatched from Guam. On board both ships the crew waited as the two ships sped toward one another. the thought of a lost time made little difference. A surgical team had embarked with the Destroyer and when at last the two ships sighted each other, the patient was readied and at the earliest possible moment, was transferred by highline to the waiting doctors. Later, the word that the patient was doing fine made the loss of two days of no importance. On 20 November 1961 the MANATEE slid into Long Beach for a period of leave and upkeep.


A change of command was held on board 27 November. Captain Charles O. Akers was relived by Captain Herman J. Trum. The new skipper, a naval aviator, was formerly with Carrier Division Seven as Operations Officer, aboard the USS TICONDEROGA, with which the MANATEE had conducted numerous unreps in her deployments.


Thus ends the History Handout from the open house.



CREDIT:

In 1959 Shipmate Jim Osenton graduated from Fresno State University and took a job in Huntington Park, CA near Los Angeles. In 1962 he saw a small notice in a newspaper that said that a Navy ship was having an open house... the MANATEE. Jim and his wife (8 1/2 months pregnant) and his 2 year old son attended the affair. He says that they wouldn't let him see much. They passed out several handouts (reproduced here) which he put in his old seabag, having more immediate concerns. In 1995 he found the handouts in an old box but they were so yellowed as to be hardly readable. He retyped them at the time and was good enough to forward them to me to include here.

THANKS JIM!